Good On Paper

Carson Wentz after Seattle Loss
At the beginning of the 2019 season, Philly fans said that Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles looked good on paper.

 This blog was originally entitled, “Don’t Give Up On Your Team, Vol. II, a.k.a., ‘What’s With Wentz?’  Instead, “Good On Paper” says it all.

At the beginning of the 2019 season, the Philadelphia Eagles looked good on paper. They had speed at the wide receiver position in DeSean Jackson, they had depth on defense, and — ahem — presumably they had a healthy Carson Wentz, our franchise quarterback, ready to return to his vintage form. But that was then, And THAT was on paper.

Carson Wentz had arguably his worst game as a professional yesterday as the Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Seattle Seahawks, 17-9.  Wentz committed five, count’ em, FIVE turnovers, and lost four, with two interceptions and two fumbles.  Two words immediately come to mind: unbelievable and unacceptable.

Dude.  Brother.  Homie. I mean really? Seriously? C’mon Man! Man up, settle down, bring her in and get the lead out.  Wentz, you are better than this. But you’re not showing it. And the Philly Faithful is holding out hope that you will return to the MVP form you had at the beginning of the 2017 Super Bowl Season. Did I mention the Super Bowl LII win? Surely I digress, Yes, Philly fans are still holding on and holding out for a repeat performance from our wonderful Wentz of a quarterback. But Man! Is this guy making it hard or what?

For the Philadelphia Eagles, to say that this season has not gone according to plan is putting it mildly.  The Eagles are a paltry and pitiful 5-6, and there are at least two games that we’ve, I mean THEY, have lost early on in the season that should have gone the other way.

But some say that there’s still hope. Some say that the Eagles still have a chance (a fat one?) at winning the Division, the NFC East. The Eagles have a light schedule against pancake teams the rest of the way, such as Miami, the Giants TWICE and the Redskins. But there is no guarantee that things will get better.  Based on Carson’s play yesterday, things could absolutely, utterly and totally go from bad to worse. There is no guarantee that these Eagles, or more specifically, Carson Wentz, will right the ship and earnestly and honestly content for a crown, this year or even next.

But we must not lose hope in our team, right? We must not throw the baby out with the bathwater, and we must not jump to conclusions, right? But we also must lift our faith from the pages of the Bible to the table or our hearts. Faith without works is dead. And thus far this season, this Eagles team has given us little faith and less to work with. 

ON PAPER, we should still hold out and hold on to hope: Here’s how heavy.com put the Eagles chances:

“The Eagles’ record stands at 5-6, while the Cowboys dropped to 6-5. It’s a one-game difference with five games to play. The way the Birds have played in recent weeks leaves room for doubt. Maybe their offense can’t score enough points to even win another game. Hold on. Look at their remaining schedule.

Philadelphia has the 12th-easiest schedule the rest of the way, according to Team Rankings. Their opponents’ records are a combined 18-41 while the Cowboys still face stiff tests against the Bills (8-3), Rams (6-4) and Bears (5-6).

(On paper,) the Eagles should reel off three straight wins starting this week in Miami, with a showdown at Lincoln Financial Field versus Dallas on the horizon in Week 16. That game would likely decide the NFC East. As bad as Philadelphia has played, (on paper), it’s all in front of them.”

In other words, the Eagles have a chance of making the playoffs, as their chances of winning the Division are good, but they’re only good on paper.

Good on paper. For more than a few folks, everything adds up, on paper.  It’s sad to say, but most of the majority of mankind (in the West, at least) may well have it all together, on paper. That’s what some people are like. They appear good and they show well. They have a good job, they drive a nice car and they live in a big house in a nice neighborhood. They may even go to church, but that’s all on paper.  

Truth be told, some Christians look good, but just on paper. They do the right things, use the right words, and give the right answers. They look nice and shiny on the outside. They go to church every week; they may even sing on the choir or play on the keyboard or even unlock and lock the church doors. They may serve as an usher or a deacon or a Sunday school teacher. They may even preach in the pulpit. But that’s all on paper.

Real people are more than the sum of their parts on paper. How do they actually live? What’s actually in their heart? And why do they do what they do? What is their motivation and inspiration for life?  Do these “good on paper” people actually believe that Jesus Christ is the center and focus of our life of faith?

Alright enough; enough about those “good on paper” patsies. How about you? Does Christ  dictate what you do and what you say? Are you authentically altruistic, genuinely genial and wholeheartedly wholesome?

This Christmas, let’s do better than be good on paper.

Let’s be true for real.  

Why Philly Fans Are the Best

AP FILM-FOOTBALL MOVIES A ENT
Bradley Cooper with DeSean Jackson Philadelphia Eagles jeresy on playing Pat Solatano in a scene from the motion picture “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Philly fans are the best.

That’s right. Philly fans are the best. And you heard it right here on www.Godandsports.net. Yes Green Bay Packer fans and New England Patriot fans (booo!) and Golden State Warrior fans and Pittsburg Penguin fans and Ohio State Buckeye fans and LA Dodger fans may be passionate and arrogant and snobbish and boorish when it comes to their team, but Philly fans are the best. The best of the best. Why? I’m from Philly so let me tell you why.

Philly fans are fanatical, and being a fanatic is not a bad thing. Fanatical means to be marked by excessive enthusiasm for and intense devotion to a cause or idea. And there’s nothing wrong with being a fanatic for a good cause. Enthusiasm and fervency and zeal and devotion are part and parcel of sports. And when these ingredients are missing and wanting, there’s a void and a vacuum that just can’t be filled.

Philly fans have Carson Wentz, a born again believer who’s uses his faith for football. John Gruden said it best on MNF: “Carson Wentz believes that his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ helps him play football better.”  Amen brother. I am all for the combination of faith and football, and other sports too. And Carson Wentz is doing just that. 

Carson Wentz is combining his physicality with his spirituality.  He’s a bona fide believer and a darn good football player using his platform to win football games and to point others to spiritual victory.  And since Wentz has been sweetly saved by His power divine, he is be a sell out for the salvation of other sinners whose souls need saving too.  

Philly fans have Joel Embiid. And we “trust” and believe in “The Process.”  Since trust is a spiritual word, Philly fans are full of faith and energized with enthusiasm and jumping’ for joy over the fact that now our football team, (Go Eagles!) and our basketball team (DA Sixas!) are finally doing well, at the same time, and are on their way to being great.

Spiritually speaking, we all should be full of faith and hope and love. And that sums up every Philly fan. We have faith in the process, we hope to win a championship or two (soon!), and we love our teams and the players that have played for them.  And all fans everywhere should be the same way too.  

Chip, Chip, Chipping Away; a.k.a., The Chips Are Down In South Philly

Chip Kelly

I just came back from the dentist. My dentist, whom I LOVE, is great (What’s Up Doc!).  She’s an avid, rabid, die-hard Philadelphia Eagles football fan; so how can you not love your dentist when she knows more about your football team than you do? We fussed and fumed about Coach Chip Kelly’s future so bad that we had to laugh to keep from crying. But we laughed so hard we did cry! And you better believe Chip Kelly’s shocking shenanigans are no laughing matter, as all of Philly is nigh near tears.

Chip Kelly came to town after Andy Reid left for Kansas City.  Ok. So we got over that, because Andy, much as we loved him, had done all he could do in South Philly.  Andy had run out of chips, and it appears that Chip is using up all of his chips too; and for Mr. Kelly, the game for him has barely begun.

Enter Chip Kelly, who is now front and center.  So after Andy we got a dandy of a coach in Chip (or so we thought) and his newfangled offense. Ok. So for Kelly’s first two seasons we put up with being laughed at by the Cowboys and the Redskins and even the New York Football Giants, not to mention the rest of the League. But we win!  Even with this crazy, hurry-up, hafta’ catch your breath offense, we win!

My Eagles went 10-6 in Chip’s  first year AND won the NFC EAST! Go figure!  That’s not too shabby for a first year coach with a new system, right? But we go 10-6 AGAIN in his second year AND fail to make the playoffs! What?!!!  This, when we were picked to win (or at least go to) the Super Bowl. Not good. Not good at all, especially if you’re an Eagle’s fan.  NOW THIS!

Charles “Chip” Kelly is chip, chip, chipping away at the Eagles roster. He’s chipping away at the Eagles fan base, and in so doing, he’s chipping away at his job and maybe even his NFL career. Last year he traded DeSean Jackson, a fan favorite no less, to the Washington Redskins for Pete’s sake! This year, for an encore, he just shipped Shady McCoy to outer Siberia, I mean Buffalo, for an injured kid who sat out all of last season for crying out loud (but he played for him at Oregon.) THEN, he traded Maclin. AND,  . . . this just in, . . .  we just traded Nick Foles for Sam Bradford.  Whaaaaaaaat?!!!

Chip had better put some chips together to make a whole something because his support is sinking and his boosters are blinking and his defenders are dropping like flies.  He’s been a first-rate coach with an inside track, but now he’s being second guessed and hardly has an outside chance of staying in Philly for more than a year if this doesn’t work.  And it better work.

 A chip is a flake and a flaw, a minute, miniscule morsel, a scrap and a scrape, a tidbit and a taste, a slice and a shard — but not nothin’ near a whole anything. And as he cranks out trades, Mr. Kelly might want to consider that his chip may be crumbling and his mindset may be mumbling because he seems to be bumbling his way out of a decent job.  Too bad.

Spiritually speaking, God takes gambles too. For starters, He gambled on me and you. And God is chipping away at our faults and our foibles and our flops and our flaws and our failings and our fears and yet He keeps giving us the ball even when we fumble and fall. Because God’s gambles always work out.  

So, let’s take the positive path, shall we? When you have a problem, what do you do? You can’t swallow the whole bowl of gruel in one big gulp. So chip away at the problem, and try to whittle that big mountain down to bite size chunks. So, let’s all take a deep breath, count to ten, and THEN look for a new coach!

Sorry Chip, but your chips are down. So I hope you have a chip on your shoulder, and that chip is that you can prove that you’re right and the rest of the football world is wrong. Because sometimes you have to take risks and gambles and go against the grain and try to beat the odds when you think you’re right. The only thing is, you better be right.

Too Good To Go

032714_DeSean-cut_600

DeSean Jackson is good but did he have to go? According to NFL.com, the Philadelphia Eagles announced Friday that DeSean Jackson was informed of his release. He wasn’t traded and we got nothing for him; he was just let go. It’s a sad day for Eagles Nation (pronounced Iggles everywhere and to everyone who loves things Philly).

Our best and our brashiest, our fleetest and our flashiest receiver is gone. Say what you want about him off the field (well get to that later), but on the field he was a fan favorite. And this is coming during an offseason where we are planning for a deep run in next year’s postseason.

Jackson is good. His talent and his tenacity earned him respect from friends and foes alike. His stats are impressive: he just had his best year as an Eagle and he will finish his six-year Eagles career with 356 receptions, 6,117 yards and 39 total touchdowns. He had grit and he could take a hit.

Jackson is good, but sadly, they let him go. Performance on the field is one thing; behavior off the field is another. Players must realize that what goes on off the field bleeds back onto the field. NFL.com reports that “the end of the Jackson saga comes in the wake of a Friday morning NJ.com report claiming the Eagles have ‘serious concerns’ about the wide receiver’s continued association with reputed Los Angeles street gang members tied to a pair of homicides.” The same NFL report also “questions Jackson’s attitude, work ethic, chemistry with coach Chip Kelly and penchant for missing team meetings to hang out with friends.”[1]

And so we must realize that evil corrupts everything it touches. I’m not accusing DeSean of anything; I’m just sayin’. Whoever he was hangin’ with, and whoever he was rollin’ with, they weren’t good for him to be with. Not for where he was going. He had so much promise and so much potential that he should have protected the perception people have of him. Sadly, it does not appear that the Eagles had the will or the wherewithal to work and wax and polish and finish the brilliance that Jackson has. And for his part, Jackson didn’t care enough either, and it cost him. Just like Lot.

Lot chose to pitch his tent toward Sodom. Lot lived and breathed the low life of the low end of the food chain and it corrupted his life and corrupted his wife to the point she loved evil more than good. She turned to look back and turned into a pillar of salt. “And (God) delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked” (2 Peter 2:7). Lot didn’t protect his family so the Lord had to provoke him to leave that wicked and wonton place before He destroyed it.

So we must learn the lessons of Lot and of DeSean. Don’t let your good be evil spoken of. Don’t be good on the field and ghastly off the field. Don’t be great in uniform and grisly in plain clothes. Be good on and off of the field. Protect your reputation and your disposition. Let your makeup and your moral fiber be above reproach. If you are good inside and out, in and off-season, on the upside and on the downswing, you won’t have to be let go.

 

[1] http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000337774/article/desean-jackson-released-by-philadelphia-eagles

 

That’s The Way The Ball Bounces

Packers Eagles Football

How on earth did he catch that ball?  Maybe that’s it – there’s no way on earth he caught it; anybody believe in Divine intervention? Even though many don’t want to equate spirituality with sports, how else can you explain what happens in situations like this? Eagles quarterback Nick Foles had no business throwing into double coverage. Nine out of ten times, that pass is intercepted, Philly looses to Green Bay, and the Eagles season is over.

Instead, a deflected pass lands in DeSean Jackson’s hands.  Jackson is in the right place at the right time; the Eagles score first, go on to win, and are now tied with the Dallas Cowboys for first place in the NFC East.  You just can’t write that kind of script. That’s just the way the ball bounces.

There are times when we have no business winning, no business coming away with a touchdown catch, no business coming out on top. There are defenders determined to intercept our blessings, challengers charged with cutting-off our miracles, and opponents obsessed with obtaining our crowns. And yet, the ball bounces our way. It can’t be explained.  It can only be experienced.  And that’s the way the ball bounces.

It’s a modern proverb. You cannot control everything that happens to you. But you can control how you react to everything that happens to you.  Those of us who believe in heaven and hell, right and wrong, virtue and vice, know that good will overcome evil, and that there is order in the universe. God is in control. Thank God good happens when we expect bad; unfortunately, the opposite is also true: bad happens when we expect good.  But we know how the story ends. 

 So, the next time you’re double teamed, the next time the ball should be snatched away from you, the next time you come away unscathed, unphased and undefeated, know that you are in the same company as the three Hebrew boys, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They were thrown into the fiery furnace.  They were outgunned, outmatched and seemingly outdone.  But we know how the story ends.

And that’s the way the ball bounces.

Impact Players

Cowboys Trio

I have a dear friend, confidant and brother who is an impact player. He loves the Lord and puts up with me. That, in my book, is enough to earn him a right to the tree of life.  He has made an impact on so many lives, and has made an indelible imprint on mine.  He continues to make a difference through his tears and sorrows, and his questions about tomorrow. He would kill me if I mentioned his name, but he knows who he is.

As an Eagles fan (that’s right, it’s pronounced “Iggles,”), I’ve come to the conclusion that if we are to have a chance at winning the NFC East and a Super Bowl in my lifetime, our impact players will have to “step up to ‘da plate.”  LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Michael Vick must be “the big three” in Philly just as the Dallas Cowboys big three of Troy Aikman, Emmit Smith and Michael Irvin took control of games and won two Super Bowls in the ‘90’s.

I’m not a Dallas fan by any stretch of the imagination, or at least not anymore (I quit when Jimmy Jones fired Tom Landry; an unconscionable act), but I know sports, and these three were impact players of the first degree.  Aikman, Irvin and Smith; a quarterback, a running back and a wide receiver; hmmmm. It sounds like Philly has the right pieces — we just need to put these pieces together.

The Bible is full of impact players who put it together. They trusted God and sacrificed themselves so that others would escape disaster and achieve triumph in this life, and the life to come. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way:  

“For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets –  who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated –  of whom the world was not worthy . . . ”  (Hebrews 11:32-38, RSV)

Impact players. They make everyone around them better. They play at the highest level all of the time. They are hated by their enemies and loved by their fans. And they aren’t concerned about who gets the credit, just as long as victory is won. 

Are you an impact player?